Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, February 24, 1965. Intended for Apa L, Nineteenth Distribution, LASFS Meeting #1437, February 25, 1965. Address: 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90025. Phone: 213 GR 3-6321.
|Next Thursday is the TAFF Deadline! Vote now!||Salamander Press #79.|
I see that Al is writing up How He Got Started On Science Fiction. I realized that comments on material in the same mailing/distribution the material is in are verboten, but this isn't exactly the same thing. With a nice, long remembering-session with EdCo and LeeJ and Dave Hulan still fresh in our minds, it's the natural thing for both of us to write about. Besides, I want to set down my reminiscences before they grow stale, too. I've touched on this before in other fanzines, but I don't think I've ever covered it in Apa L before. If so, bear with me.
I started out reading on fantasy, if you want to stretch a point -- the funny-animal comic books, which, with their combination of modern-logical plots with fairy-tale-type characters, could class with borderline science fantasy. Some relative got me a subscription to WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES -- the one with a Donald Duck adventure in front, several other Disney-animal characters in the middle (Bucky Bug; remember him?), and a Mickey Mouse serial at the back -- and my mother read it to me every month. I learned to read by reading along with my mother, and one of my earliest recollections is of how proud I was when I could finally read the comic to her, by myself (though I'm sure she must've given me some prompting on the harder words). Incidentally, my favorite stories were the Donald Duck adventures, and I now understand that these were all written and drawn by a Disney artist named Carl Barks, who still does the UNCLE SCROOGE comic regularly. If so, I can state who my earliest Favorite Author was. How many of you can do the same? At any rate, I was reading by the time I entered elementary school in 1947.
Besides comic books -- there were all the superhero comic books, of course, but let's forget about them for now -- I had two main sources of literature. One of these was the Angeles Mesa branch of the LA Public Library, which was right across the street from school (because of this, there was no library in the school). Almost every day after school, I'd stop in the library and look for some books. I had favorites, of course, many of which are only dimly remembered now -- there was a twosome, Invisible Island and Dig for a Treasure, that I can recall reading and re-reading, but I'll be zotzed if I can remember who wrote them or exactly what they were about. There was the Ellery Queen, Jr., boys' mystery series, and I remember this because I just happened to run across a Scholastic paperback reprint of one of them at a Goodwill Store last week -- The Golden Eagle Mystery -- and I'm re-reading it now. Oddly enough, while I liked the Ellery Queen, Jr. books very much, I've never cared for Dannay & Lee's adult series at all. And one theme that I always did like was fantasy. I pored through Dr. Doolittle and Mary Poppins again and again. I devoured Robert (Ben and Me) Lawson's books; my favorite is still Mr. Twigg's Mistake, which is an excellent children's s-f novel, though I didn't realize it at the time. The same can be said for William Péne du Bois, with The Twenty-One Balloons (adult s-f fans will enjoy this as a superb spoof on most of Verne's s-f) and The Three Policemen. (Peter Graves and The Giant came after I had discovered regular s-f.) Walter Brooks' Freddy the Pig series; and while I'm on that subject, I might elaborate a bit. Several of the local fans have discovered that they can Push a Button and get me to React when they mention Freddy the Pig in my presence, and I might as well explain that the engram is all about. As the library was right across the street from the school, the children's librarians would often come to the class to make sure we were learning about books; and conversely, the class would upon occasion troop over to the library for a book talk. These talks always started out by the teacher introducing the librarian to the class, and some of the class to the librarian, to set up a cozy atmosphere; and as I have always been an obviously bookish sort, my teachers invariably picked me as one of the ones to introduce with some "he already likes books" comment, presumably to let the librarian know I'd be an easy mark and a Good Example to the rest of the class. And 9 times out of 10, assuming it was a new librarian who didn't know me -- and they changed fairly rapidly at that library -- her first comment would be, "Oh, your name is Freddy? Then you'll just have to read about Freddy the Pig!" This actually came to be a minor standing joke in my classes (which consisted largely of the same students up through elementary school), so even though I did enjoy the books, I got a little sensitive to egregious references to Freddy the Pig made in my presence; and the whole subject was one I thought I could gratefully mark as closed when I graduated from 6th grade. So when Jack Harness completely unwittingly made one of the same references to me about a year ago, catching me totally by surprise, I'm afraid I reacted in exactly the wrong manner if I wanted the subject to go unnoticed and stay buried. So now you all know, and I hope that setting it down here will get it out of my system so that I can look back on it with a sense of humor someday.
My second source of literature was my home, because I invariably read everything my parents left lying around the house. Because of this, I was introduced to the mystery novel at an early age: Ellery Queen (Sr.), Rex Stout, Mignon Eberhart, all the Perry Mason and some of the D.A. books by Erle Stanley Gardiner, Agatha Christie, Craig Rice, and assorted others. These were mostly my mother's books; my father liked Civil War histories -- particularly as told from the Union point of view. (I preferred the Confederate side; my grandmother was always telling me about Great-Grandpapa Ducatel who joined the New Orleans Home Guard and caught typhoid fever while fighting in Tennessee which finally killed him ten years later in Havana, and then the peasants rebelled against Spain and sacked his house and my Great-Grandmama and the children barely escaped in time but they had to leave everything behind... Oh, I tell you, I've got a family history that could break your heart. Apparently nothing ever happened on my father's side of the family; or at least my paternal grandmother isn't as talkative.) at any rate, one day my father brought home Sixth Column, by Robert A. Heinlein. I later asked him why he'd gotten that book that day, and he said it was because he'd read Heinlein's short stories in the SATURDAY EVENING POST and had enjoyed them, and he wanted to see what a novel by Heinlein would be like. As it happens, he decided he didn't like science fiction, and that was the only book he ever read. But by that time, I'd been hooked. I must have finished off the library's total stock of s-f, both juvenile and adult, in less than a month; and from then on, while I continued to read other books, I was on the lookout to grab every new s-f or fantasy book as soon as it came in.
Libraries remained my main source of s-f for the next three or four years. Fortunately, I had access to a wide stock of libraries; beside the Angeles Mesa branch of the L.A. (City) Public Library, the View Park branch of the L.A. County Public Library was within walking distance of my home, and there was still reciprocal service between them then. (Several years ago, the City Library decided to cut some deficits by charging County residents for a library card, and the County Library quickly retaliated, but by then, I'd read all their books and was buying my s-f off the newsstands.) And through each of these, I could always order any other s-f book in the library system and have it sent to my local branch. Then I soon moved on to junior high school, and Audubon Jr. Hi had a very good library with several titles in neither of the Public Library systems. All in all, there was enough hardbound s-f in the libraries around me to keep me sated for quite a while. S-f wasn't the only course in my literary diet at this time; I had broader reading horizons than I do now.
I don't recall just when I discovered magazine s-f; the earliest prozine I can remember reading was the ASTOUNDING with the Currents of Space in it; October 1952. My junior high school English class had a paperback ordering service, and I got my first paperback s-f in this way: The Undying Fire, by Pratt, and Expedition to Earth, by Clarke. I discovered Ace paperbacks in Reno in Summer, 1954; I was there with my parents on vacation, and I wasn't old enough to be allowed in any of the gambling establishments, so I spent most of my time in corner drugstores reading their prozines and paperbacks. I picked up a copy of Beyond Earth's Gates, by Padgett and Moore, and was struck even then by the redundancy of the byline. About a year later, I began collecting in a big way, and that finally led to where I am now.
So that's how I Got Started On Science Fiction. What's your story?
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Well, the second Ray Bradbury Theatre Party, to see "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit", "A Device Out of Time", and "Beyond the Reef", is all lined up. It's for Saturday, March 20th, at 10:45 p.m. This is a lot later in the evening than the last Theatre Party, but it's the only performance on Saturday when the special group rates are available, and it was agreed that we wanted a Saturday Party so that San Diego Fandom would be able to come to it, and have Sunday to get back home. And possibly we might talk some of Bay Area Fandom into coming down when we go up for the G&S Party next Saturday. We should have a large group, in any case. So the performance starts at 10:45 p.m., and I'm sure we won't have much trouble finding some way to kill most of the evening. How about an LA - SD - BA Fandom Get Acquainted Party at the Labyrinth to start off the evening, say from 7:00 p.m. on, and about 10:15 we can all go over to the Coronet Theatre together? How do you Labyrinthines feel about hosting another Big Party this soon?
As before, tickets are $2.00 each, with 12¢ of that going to either the Building Fund or Operation: Andy Capp -- which do you prefer? This gets you any seat in the house, up to and including the $4.75 ones. I've ordered 40 tickets to start with, and I can get more, so I'll be selling them on an immediate first-come-first-served basis. Pick yours up now!
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Si por tipo debemos entender la abstracción concreta, ..."
("If by type, we mean to understand the concrete abstraction, ..."
Ernesto Barrera y Montaņez, El Robo por Estado Necesario, p. 76.
Would anyone care to give me an example of a "concrete abstraction"?
-- BEING COMMENTS ON THE EIGHTEENTH DISTRIBUTION
Jack Harness -- Well, we haven't had too much trouble at the collating session for the past couple of weeks. Two weeks ago was the Coventry-vs.-SHAGGY business, of course, and there was enough interesting action going on at the front of the room to keep all of the idlers occupied. There wasn't any trouble last week because (I hope) my editorial had some effect. So let's just hope that Apa L has survived yet another crisis, and that we won't have to worry about this problem any longer. I might appoint Barry Gold our Official Watchdog just in case, though; there'll always be the new guests who'll have to have the Hands Off policy explained to them at least once. ## Galouye had a lot of good stuff in MADGE; I don't recall Dark Universe, but I do remember The Fist of Shiva. And "Satan's Shrine" in GALAXY. It's past time for a good collection of Galouye's short stories and novelettes. ## Anybody who just dumps a handful of pages in my lap and then disappears without telling me in what order they are supposed to go can expect to find them mixed up. I have enough to do without taking time out to read every zine beforehand to look for internal evidence as to where it's supposed to go; if you hand me three apparently self-contained zines, with what looks like a separate heading lettered at the top of each, the chances are that they'll be listed as three separate zines.
Richard Mann -- DECEPTION in a clever plastic disguise, or did you do plastic surgery to change it officially to HOMBREN? ## I think Ed Wood had a checklist of Ace books in SAPS back around Mailing #50, giving all the original sources. If you can still find a copy. ## No jetan, but how about Diplomacy? Fleet London to North Sea; Fleet Edinburgh to Norwegian Sea; Army Liverpool to Edinburgh. Who else's interested? ## Yes, I always thought that "merry-go-round" and "carrousel" were the same thing; that the latter was just a fancified name for the former. Yes, indeed; Webster's Second says "Carrousel. ... b. A merry-go-round." No mention of it being a special kind of merry-go-round. ## I'm sure we could pool our MMMS stickers and come up with 35, but if you think I'm going to waste mine that way, ... ## To get into CAPA-alpha, you have to be able to write Serious Words about comic books. If you think you qualify, the fan running it is Dr. Jerry Bails, 22529 Karam Court, Warren, Michigan, 48091. Mailing #6 due out after the first of March.
Len Bailes -- Oddly enough, your dream could be true on a couple of counts. I know that second-hand bookstore your dream-self wandered into; the only catches are that a) you sure as hell won't find any bargains there; b) you aren't allowed to go up on the roof to look at the zines; you tell the proprietor which zine and date you want and he'll go up and get it himself, and you have to guarantee blind to buy it no matter what condition it's in first or he won't waste his time bringing it down; c) for reason b), you won't find me in there any more. And while you won't find me burrowing through snow for any money for the simple reason that you won't find me up in the snow, I did spend a lot of my gym time back in junior high sifting the sand under the parallel bars and such for money that fell out of the other kids' pockets (and finding a fair bit, too).
Ed Cox -- A great entry; keep it up! ## Offhand, the only unattached good-looking females I can recall meeting at the Cat Show were among the felines themselves. Don't tell Boyd Raeburn ... ## Ace seems to be reprinting Cummings on a fairly regular basis. The Shadow Girl came out about two years ago, and I think most of his novels from the Clayton ASTOUNDINGs.
Bĵo Trimble -- By all means, keep your comic strip going! I can hardly wait for the next of our home-grown superheroes to appear. ## Al's had the flu for the last two weeks now, but I haven't come down with it yet. We figure it's probably biding its time, and just about the time he gets over it, I'll come down with it, and keep it long enough for his built-up immunity to wear off. Then he'll get it back again, and ...
Dave Van Arnam -- Your (or is it Goodman's) alternate world in which Nixon was elected strikes me as more wishful dreaming than logical calculation. And what has the other side of the Iron Curtain been doing while Pres. Nixon has been so forthright and resolute? ## Nabokov I haven't read, and I'll have to admit being so depressed by Catcher in the Rye that I haven't read anything else of Salinger's, so I guess I shouldn't make broad pronouncements about all his writing.
Jim Lucas -- Sure; let's hear about your pets. I would have liked to have had a snake, but my mother nixed it on the grounds that there weren't any around our house to catch and pet-shop snakes cost too much, and they would be too hard to feed. Though I have the feeling that if I had come up with an answer to these, she would've found other objections. I once had two scorpions for one day, which was as long as it took the one to eat the other.